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Division 5 President’s Message:

Many Signs of New Life in Quantitative Methods

Leona S. Aiken
Arizona State University

(This article is adapted from an article entitled, "The President’s Message: Many Signs of New Life in Quantitative Methods" printed in the Score, Division 5 Newsletter, Volume XXI, No. IV, October, 1998, with permission of Division 5).

Five Signs of New Life

There are currently very positive signs that suggest a resurgence of interest on the part of our nonquantitative colleagues in what quantitative psychology, including evaluation, measurement, statistics, and assessment, has to offer the broader field of psychology. There are additional signs that suggest that we may be at the outset of a period of growth in the ranks of quantitative psychology. Five concurrent trends lead me to this conclusion.

(1) Hearty Job Market

In the past few years the academic job market for quantitative psychologists has blossomed. Quantitative positions abound in a range of academic institutions from 4 year colleges through elite Ph.D. programs. This lively job market indicates broad support for quantitative training, and not just among the ranks of quantitative psychologists. I believe that two forces operate to occasion this trend: (a) a spate of retirements has left departments without teachers of the fundamental quantitative curriculum and without quantitative consultation; and (b) our new methodologies have become increasingly complex, leading our colleagues to realize the need for training, if not for themselves, then for their students.

(2) New Quantitative Ph.D. Programs

The current development of new Ph.D. programs in measurement, methods, and statistics reverses a previous trend of closing some classic quantitative programs housed in both psychology and educational psychology departments. Quantitative program development is in progress at a number of institutions. In my own department, we received broad support from our colleagues to develop our new program. I take new program development as a second sign that our nonquantitative colleagues value what we do and are willing to commit resources to training in quantitative methods.

(3) The Remarkable Success of Psychological Methods

Psychological Methods is the new APA journal devoted to the "development and dissemination of methods for collecting, analyzing, understanding, and interpreting psychological data" (inside cover, Psychological Methods, 1(1), March, 1996). It is enjoying remarkable success, success that Susan Knapp, Director of APA Publications, characterized as "tremendous for the third year" of the journal (Personal Communication, September 4, 1998). As of August, 1998, there were 3,930 total subscriptions, with 3,427 APA member and associate subscriptions (up 11% from 1997) and 445 institutional subscriptions. In fact, Psychological Methods ranks 9th in APA member and associate subscriptions among the 26 APA journals. At the end of 1997, Psychological Methods stood slightly ahead of Psychological Bulletin, and substantially ahead of Psychological Review, the two other generalist journals in the APA portfolio, in APA member and associate subscriptions. The only journals with greater member and associate subscriptions include the American Psychologist, plus the major clinical, counseling, health, and professional practice journals. The ranks of Division 5 members and officers, including myself, who worked to gain APA approval for the journal are truly gratified.

(4) Lively New Student Memberships in Division 5

In the past 5 years Division 5 has experienced a steady stream of 100-150 new student memberships into the Division each year. This suggests to me that a base of both quantitative methodologists and other students with strong quantitative interests are in training in graduate schools across the country.

(5) Demand for Methodological Expertise in the Research Enterprise

There is increasing demand for methodologists to serve on study sections for many of the major funding agencies. Moreover, demand is increasing for appropriate methodologists as members of grant proposal teams. This increased demand again reflects the acknowledgement by our colleagues of the importance of our methodologies for the substantive research enterprise in psychology.

Division 5 Involvement in Training: The Survey of Quantitative and Measurement Curricula of Ph.D. Programs

Division 5 is now actively involved in broad curricular issues concerning the training of Ph.D.s in psychology and related fields in quantitative methods.

Quantitative Curriculum

Last spring, Steve West (former Division 5 member-at-large and program chair), Roger Millsap (Division 5 membership chair) and I undertook a survey of the content of the quantitative curriculum of all the Ph.D. programs in psychology in the United States and Canada, a replication and extension of the earlier study reported in the 1990 American Psychologist (Aiken, West, Sechrest, & Reno, 1990). As of now, we have achieved over an 80% response rate from the 234 institutions in the study. The previous article was used by a number of institutions as a planning document, as well as to argue for increased curriculum and staffing in quantitative methods. We intend that the replication will serve this same purpose.

Focus on Measurement Curriculum

Past President Cecil Reynolds implemented a Task Force on Measurement Training as the core of his presidential initiative (see the Score, October, 1997); this task force is chaired by former Past President Ronald Hambleton. Ron Hambleton will implement a survey of the measurement training in Ph.D. programs later this year to form the basis of task force activities; this detailed survey of measurement training expands the broader survey of quantitative curriculum.

Division 5 Involvement in Committees on Test Standards
and Test User Qualifications

The revision of the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing and the creation of Guidelines for Test User Qualifications are ongoing activities at APA; the impact of these activities on the professional activities of Division 5 members cannot be over estimated. Fortunately, Division 5 members are centrally involved in both activities. Division 5 Member-at-Large Paul Sackett co-chairs the revision of the Standards. Former Score Editor Marcia Andberg serves on the committee on Test User Qualifications. Division 5 members have been active in review of draft documents from both committees; former Division 5 President Mark Davison organized the Division 5 response to the Standards revision.

Division 5 Membership: Great Diversity of Interests
and Connections with Division 14

Division 5 membership reflects a mixture of individuals with a broad range of methodological interests from the mathematical development of new statistical and measurement methods, to test development, to the use of tests in assessment in applied settings. Our membership also has broad substantive interests spanning industrial-organizational, personality, health, clinical, and educational psychology at least. Like Division 14, our membership is heterogeneous in its professional employment, well balanced between industry and academic settings. Our leadership in Division 5 overlaps with that of Division 14; individuals simultaneously hold positions on the executive committees of both divisions. At present, both Wayne Camara and Mary Tenopyr serve on the two executive committees. The overlap in leadership reflects the substantial overlap in the membership of our two divisions.

Divisions 5 and 14 at the Joint APA Convention Cocktail Party

Division 5 members have been very pleased that our cocktail party at the annual APA convention has been a joint effort with Division 14. This year is no exception. We have enjoyed the collegiality of Division 14 members. We hope that this symbolizes our proximity as divisions, and presages further collaboration between the divisions.

Do not hesitate to contact me at the Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Box 871104, Tempe, Arizona 85287-1104; email Leona.Aiken@asu.edu.


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